Volume 42 Winter, 1999 No. 4

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Click here to learn more about the K A B V I Newsletter


Published Quarterly by The Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.
P.O. BOX 292
Topeka Kansas 66601

An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind





TOPEKA KS 66606-1753

200 E 32ND
HAYS KS 67601




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1010 Inverness
Wichita KS 67218

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NOTIONS by Nancy Johnson


GSA SHIFT HURTING NONPROFITS by Stephen Barr, The Washington Post

HOUSE PASSES JOB BENEFIT FOR DISABLED by John F. Harris, Washington Post Staff Writer

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary





TOUCHING AND TAPPING THROUGH LIFE By Rachel Sobel, Post-Gazette Staff Writer






By Sanford J. Alexander, III


Charles Dickens wrote in The Tale of Two Cities that it was

the best of times; it was the worst of times.

I feel services to blind people are somewhat at the same

crossroads today and that events in the next several months will

decide whether or not blind and visually impaired Kansans are able

to enjoy the services and choices that will make it possible for

them to achieve full, first-class citizenship; since a population

that sports an unemployment rate of nearly 75% can hardly be

thought to be enjoying such status at this time.

Across the state we have witnessed a dream almost die at the

hands of little-minded, jealous blind people and insensitive,

incompetent sighted program administrators. We have also felt the

hurt of how much the needs of blind and visually impaired

individuals in terms of access technology needs are misunderstood

and unappreciated by an unknowledgeable public.

We have also seen a subtle change in the wind direction from

the State agency, spearheaded by the most open and honest attempt

to establish a dialogue with the blind community that we have seen

in many years.

In Great Bend over the weekend of October 22-24, 1999, K A B V I

enjoyed one of its best conventions ever. We were joined by Alan

Beatty, President of American Council of Blind Lions who is working

hard to improve the relationship between the Lions organization and

the blind community they have, according to Mr. Beatty, underserved

for many years.

Presidents and vice presidents of the five local affiliates

joined me for breakfast during convention and we discussed how they

could both benefit from and contribute to the efforts of the state

organization. Several projects will certainly spring from this


Those attending the banquet helped celebrate the career of

retired DSB Director Suzannah Erhart who was presented with the

Eleanor A. Wilson Award. Suzannah shared many memories and helped

us understand the importance of our meetings in the development of

professional staff.

Don Cox, retiring from his position as Director of

Rehabilitation at Envision, was presented with K A B V I's first

honorary lifetime membership following his "farewell address"

during which he reviewed some of the accomplishments of the past

couple of years and pointed out some of the areas about which we

must be watchful in the future if we are to achieve our goals.

An historic presentation was made by K A B V I's Michael Byington

and NFBK First Vice President Richard Edlund dealing with the topic

of the commission for the blind which is currently awaiting action

in the State legislature. Who would ever have expected to live to

hear Michael Byington tell the K A B V I audience that we were working

so closely with the NFBK on this bill and that things would be

happening very quickly; so, whatever we were asked to do by he,

myself, Dick Edlund or Susie Stanzel, should be done without


The convention closed with Susie Stanzel addressing the

convention and stating that she had an enjoyable time, learned a

great deal and had been treated courteously. She said: "This was

the first ACB or K A B V I event I have attended in my entire life;

but, it won't be the last."

As I look forward to making a presentation on the Future

Design Team report to the NFBK convention, I must reflect on how

far we have truly traveled along the road of cooperation. I also

must marvel at how it took the threat of total dismantling of the

Division of Services for the Blind, the planned closing of Kansas

Industries for the Blind, and the reorganization of SRS into a

structure that clearly presented concerns for the blind community

to bring us together. It took the threat of extinction to make us

see that the majority of issues upon which we agree are far more

vital to our future than are many of the things about which we

differ. In addition, we have found room to allow the other

organization to champion issues it regards as important without the

threat of suffocating opposition.

We have a long way to go before we can feel confident that

services for the blind in Kansas will be configured in a manner

that will provide the best quality service for the most efficient

expenditure of funds; but, we are closer than we have been in a

long time. We still have many areas of apprehension with which we

must deal, including major changes in service philosophy that hold

promise of underserving or improperly serving us.

From my perspective, this convention will be looked back upon

as one of the pivotal events in the history of K A B V I and I am

gratified to have had the privilege of playing a role in setting

the stage upon which the drama will be played.



by Nancy Johnson


I need only a small space to wish you all wonderful holidays

and that the up-coming year turns out to be all you hope it will


Your job and mine is to keep smiling as we work hard to

achieve our goals as individuals and as an organization. K A B V I is

your organization. Communicate with your board members and let

them know how well they're moving your organization in the

direction you want it to go.

I could say I'll see you next time, or next year - even next

century. And that's all true. So - see you next millennium!



by William Lewis


It has been almost ten years since The American Council of the

Blind (ACB) accepted a new special interest affiliate. But on

Valentine's Day 1999 a charter was granted to Alliance On Aging And

Vision Loss (AAVL); and on Independence Day 1999 the charter was

accepted, along with its Constitution and Bylaws, at its first

official meetings. A 501(C)(3) organization, AAVL focuses on the

needs of people who are living their second half of life with the

additional problems of vision loss. Its motto is "We see things

differently." Its purposes, as printed in the September issue of

its newsletter are, "We strive to improve our adjustment,

independence, knowledge, opportunity, security, and enjoyment of

life, as we interact and advocate together. Membership is open to

any adult who is interested in supporting the goals of the Alliance

On Aging And Vision Loss."

Since conventions occur but once a year, it is the

organization's newsletter that keeps members and officers in touch

with one another across this wide country. THE AAVL HOUR GLASS is

a quarterly publication full of "news you can use," and is directed

to the interests and needs of its special class of members.

Over the next twenty years, people over 50 will comprise about

one-third of our population. Along with that surge will also come

an increase in life span and its resulting health problems,

including age-related vision loss. AAVL hopes to be up front

educating, instructing, supporting, and provoking its members with

mentoring support and adjustment tips. Whereas national magazines

cost from twenty to forty dollars per year, membership

in AAVL provides members much of the same information in fewer

words through the AAVL HOUR GLASS and only for ten dollars per


So come make friends with this new kid on the block. You'll

make buddies for life as you interact with some of the country's

most educated, experienced, mature, and upbeat people you are

likely to ever meet.

A membership application, brochure, and copy of the AAVL

Constitution and Bylaws are available by request from the AAVL

Corresponding Secretary, Al Gayzagian; 74 Lincoln Street;

Watertown, MA 02472; 617-926-7641; e-mail algayz@world.std.com.

Someone once wrote that success was the realization of a

worthy goal. If that be so, this new group is going somewhere.



Copyright 1999 The Washington Post

The Washington Post

September 28, 1999, Tuesday, Final Edition


HEADLINE: GSA Shift Hurting Nonprofits; Warehouse Closures May Mean

Layoffs for Blind Workers

BYLINE: Stephen Barr, Washington Post Staff Writer

A decision by the General Services Administration to close

eight supply centers has spilled into the nonprofit sector and put

more than 1,000 blind workers at risk of being laid off, according

to nonprofit group officials.

GSA officials said they did not intend to throw blind workers

out of jobs but acknowledged it was possible that nonprofit

organizations have lost sales as GSA warehouses reduce their stocks

in anticipation of closing.

"We are going to look at that hard and make sure we didn't do

anything inadvertent," GSA Administrator David J. Barram said


For decades, GSA has stocked pencils, pads, janitorial

products and even mattresses made by blind workers at its

warehouses under a federal law designed to create job opportunities

for the disabled.

But financial pressures growing out of increased competition

from private sector supply stores, the trend toward "electronic

commerce" via the Internet and fundamental changes to the

government's procurement system in recent years have forced GSA to

rethink its role as the government's chief supply clerk and


Federal agencies no longer are required to purchase supplies

from GSA, and increasing numbers of federal workers use

government-issued credit cards to make small purchases at

commercial stores. Commercial vendors also are offering a growing

number of products at competitive prices to government offices

through electronic lists on the GSA Web site.

With the Internet becoming an increasing force in commerce,

top GSA officials viewed their warehouses as marketplace laggards,

sometimes setting prices for products too high. In July, GSA

announced the shutdown of four depots and four smaller "supply

points," but without advance warning to the nonprofits.

Within weeks, the GSA warehouses quit buying from the

nonprofits to shrink their stock of supplies as they prepare to

close next year. With no new orders coming in, the nonprofits

struggled to keep their work forces intact. They scrambled to

create distribution channels on the Internet and through alliances

with private sector companies that sell to government agencies.

The GAO decision set off a "domino effect," said Jim Gibbons,

president of the National Industries for the Blind, which has sold

$135 million to $160 million worth of products every year through


"We have already experienced layoffs [and] work reductions and

across the country, [nonprofit] agencies are evaluating how they

are going to keep businesses running and people employed," Gibbons


Bob Plunkett, president of the San Antonio Lighthouse, said,

"This is the worst situation we've faced that I can remember."

The San Antonio Lighthouse, which employs about 120 blind

workers, makes mechanical pencils, paper clips, sweat pants for the

Army and oil analysis kits used by the Air Force to determine

engine maintenance needs. The workers, on average, make about $6

an hour.

"Last week I had to announce for the first time that we would

go to a three-day mandatory week and we eliminated 23 part-time

jobs held by people who are blind and have other severe

disabilities," Plunkett said. "We had to eliminate the part-timers

to keep the others going."

"If the situation does not improve soon, all of these

employees are at risk of a major reduction in force. You can only

go so long before you have to shut down," Plunkett said.

Barram said GSA would work to help nonprofits employing the

blind keep their share of the government's business and would

remind agencies that a 1938 law favors the purchase of products

made by the blind.

"Our whole supply system has been changing pretty fast,"

Barram said. "A third of our work force is working on 10 percent

of our business. That's the underlying and overlying reason for

this whole thing. We've tried very hard to put together a program

for customers, vendors and suppliers."

In its July announcement, GSA said the agency would create a

"virtual platform" so that government agencies could do the bulk of

their supply shopping online at the GSA Web site, instead of

calling in orders to the supply centers. But the plan to close the

supply centers has prompted union opposition - up to 2,000 federal

employees could lose their jobs. Union officials also complained

that Barram has not provided them with an estimate of cost savings.

The American Federation of Government Employees Council 236

filed a grievance to overturn Barram's plan and won an arbitration

decision earlier this month. Arbitrator Jerome H. Ross ordered GSA

to cancel its plans to close the supply centers and to bargain with

the union.

But Barram rejected the arbitration decision and plans to

appeal to the Federal Labor Relations Authority. "I would rather

have us in closer agreement with our unions than we are now," he

acknowledged. "We are trying to get there."

GSA chief David J. Barram said the agency will try to help

nonprofit groups employing the blind keep their share of government



Following is the response from American Council of the Blind

President Paul Edwards to the Washington Post. It relates to the

serious situation created by the U.S. General Services

Administration decision to close distribution depots and the risk

it poses to blind industrial workers.


The American Council of the Blind takes strong exception to

the representations of General Services Administrator David Barram

made in your article of September 28, entitled "GSA Shift Hurting

Nonprofits; Warehouse Closures May Mean Layoffs for Blind Workers."

In essence, GSA argues that they did not "intend" to throw

blind workers out of their jobs and that they "are going to look at

that hard and make sure we didn't do anything inadvertent." So

then what are we to conclude?

Intended or not, 23 blind folks are now not working and up to

1,400 more are at risk. Taking a hard look at whether anything was

done inadvertently is a real interesting point of logic. Seeing

the results of people losing jobs either means they obviously did

something inadvertent or they allowed for such a possibility which

they have already said was not their intent.

The reality of this is clear. GSA deliberately followed the

path of reinventing government without sufficient thought as to

what the consequences would be. Now a major agency of an

Administration, that got where it is partly on the promise that

"America has nobody to waste", finds itself putting the jobs of

1,400 blind folks and 2,000 federal employees at risk.

In the face of this reality we get rhetoric about taking long

hard looks, rather than the three obvious things they need to do.

First, slow down the closing of distribution depots to allow other

systems to ramp up to carry the load. Second, make an unequivocal

and affirmative statement to federal customers that the products

made by blind folks are still there and they need to be buying them

under the law. Thirdly, put a management scheme in place that

thinks through decisions and actions to either prevent crisis or

manage it quickly when unintended results occur.

This is the mark of real understanding and management. Lets

see what they do and how long their hard look will be as more blind

folks who only want to play by the rules and earn a living lose

their jobs.

We as a consumer organization of the blind know those workers

who make the pens and other items for purchase by the government.

They are everyday people with everyday lives. They have families

and they work hard. They don't earn anything near what a GSA

Administrator earns, but they do earn it and its time GSA take the

immediate and remedial action it must to honor the trust these

folks have placed in the decisions of the Administrator.



By John F. Harris

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 20, 1999; Page A02


"The House gave overwhelming approval yesterday to a bill

designed to let disabled people keep their government health

benefits when they go to work, reducing what critics of the current

system call a "perverse incentive" that keeps many disabled people


The House's 412 to 9 vote was an important advance for the

Work Incentives Improvement Act, a version of which has already

passed the Senate on a 99 to 0 vote. But the legislation still

faces considerable hurdles before enactment, most of them over how

to pay for the measure.

President Clinton, in a statement, hailed what he called an

"impressive vote" for the legislation, which he said "sends a

strong signal that all Americans, including people with

disabilities, should have the opportunity to work." But he warned

that the House bill had "inadequate and problematic financing

provisions," including one that the White House warned would hurt

funding for student loans.

The Senate's measure, moreover, did not include funding

provisions at all. The financing problem means the fate of the

bill will depend heavily on the work of House and Senate

negotiators in a conference committee. Leaders in both parties say

they want the disabilities measure to transcend the heavy partisan

acrimony that has affected so much other legislation, and have

expressed optimism that an acceptable compromise will be found.

Some 75 percent of disabled adults are unemployed, according

to administration backers of the bill. The House bill would allow

disabled people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance

and return to work to receive Medicare health coverage for up to 10

years, as opposed to four years under current law. The bill also

allows states to let disabled people who return to work buy into

the Medicaid program.

It also gives new help to disabled people to buy

rehabilitation services needed to enter the work force. Backers

estimate that if fully implemented, the bill would allow the number

of disabled people receiving rehabilitation and training services

to more than quadruple, to 550,000, according to an Associated

Press account.

The legislation originated in the Senate, where its sponsors

were Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and James M. Jeffords

(R-Vt.). The two had proposed paying for the estimated $800 million

five-year cost of the measure by eliminating a tax break for some

overseas corporate operations. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) opposed

ending the tax break and the bill won passage only when the

provision was dropped. No alternate funding mechanism was proposed.

Clinton included funding for the measure in his budget

proposal earlier this year, but that spending plan was a

dead-letter on Capitol Hill. The House has found funding sources

for about $300 million of the projected five-year cost.

"This is the most dramatic breakthrough for Americans with

disabilities since the Americans With Disabilities Act," said Rep.

Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.), sponsor of the House version. Lazio has

complained that the White House has not done enough to find funding

sources for the measure, but White House officials said they have

worked with Democrats in the House, and senators in both parties.

The White House's top health policy official, Chris Jennings,

expressed optimism that an acceptable proposal would emerge this

fall. "It's not perfect yet. It's not adequately financed yet," he

said, "but it's easily worth proceeding into the conference."



Office of the Press Secretary

October 19, 1999



I am extremely pleased that the House, by an overwhelming

bipartisan vote today, passed legislation that will remove barriers

to work for Americans with disabilities. Today's impressive vote

for the Work Incentives Improvement Act sends a strong signal that

all Americans, including people with disabilities, should have the

opportunity to work. Now I call on Congress to finish the job, so

more Americans can start to work.

My Administration has helped create more than 19 million new

jobs in the last six and a half years, and unemployment is at a

29-year low. Yet almost three out of four Americans with severe

disabilities who want to work are not working. Since taking

office, I have made empowering and promoting the independence of

people with disabilities a priority. Central to this effort is

taking down barriers to work for people with disabilities. One of

the biggest barriers these Americans face is the fear of losing

their health insurance when they get a job. Under current law,

many people with disabilities cannot work and keep their Medicaid

or Medicare coverage, creating a tremendous disincentive to work.

The Work Incentives Improvement Act would help ensure that

people with disabilities do not lose their health care when they

gain a job. It would give workers with disabilities the option to

buy into Medicaid and would extend Medicare coverage for people

with disabilities who return to work. The Work Incentives

Improvement Act also modernizes the vocational rehabilitation

system by creating a "ticket" that enables an SSI or SSDI

beneficiary to go to either a public or private provider of

vocational rehabilitation.

In my State of the Union Address nine months ago, I urged the

Congress to make this historic legislation a top priority, and I

fully funded it in the budget I sent to Congress. Like the House,

the Senate has overwhelmingly passed the Work Incentives

Improvement Act, thanks to the leadership of Senators Jeffords,

Kennedy, Roth, and Moynihan. The bill that passed today has flaws.

These include limitations on the health options and inadequate and

problematic financing provisions, particularly one affecting

student loans. I urge the Congress to address these issues

this year and send me this legislation. Americans with

disabilities who want to work should not have to wait any longer

for that opportunity.



by Charles Crawford


September 13, 1999, marks the hundredth anniversary of the

first pedestrian death in North America. On that day in New York

City, Heney Bliss was killed when he was struck by a taxi while

crossing a busy Manhattan street. Over the intervening one hundred

years, an estimated 500,000 people have been killed by motor

vehicles while walking on public rights-of-way in North America,

with an estimated 1,000,000 vertebrate animals being killed each

day in North America.

This is an enormous price to pay for the "convenience" and

"freedom" afforded by motor vehicles and one which has had major

impacts on our society. Although pedestrian deaths have declined

in recent years, the incidence of walking has declined even more as

more and more people get the idea: Walking is dangerous, and

drivers are no longer caring or cautious. In fact, drivers are

purposely intimidating pedestrians from using their legal

rights-of-way. In this climate, fewer and fewer parents are

allowing their children to walk independently until they are close

to their teen years, resulting in a great loss in autonomy for

today's youth, with consequences for their physical and social

development which are only beginning to emerge.

On this one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of what

many see as a major community problem, we salute the many millions

who, despite the risks and intimidation, continue to walk. We call

upon drivers to respect the basic rights to life and security of

the person (Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

of all those using public rights-of-way. Finally, we call upon

governments at all levels to respect the rights of all citizens

to safely and conveniently walk; in particular, pedestrian deaths

warrant coroner's inquests. And for those who want to join what is

a growing global struggle, check out the following web-site - http:




Corporate Alliance Will Tackle High Unemployment Rate Among People

With Disabilities


REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp.

(Nasdaq: MSFT) Chairman and CEO Bill Gates today announced the

formation of Able to Work, an independent business consortium

dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for people with

disabilities. Together with the National Business & Disability

Council (NBDC), Microsoft has assembled an Able to Work membership

of 21 leading North American companies, all of which will bring

their experience to bear in identifying tools and strategies to

help businesses in every industry tap into this capable, motivated

work force. With an unemployment rate topping 70 percent among

working-age people with disabilities, this is the most

underutilized segment of America's work force.

"Businesses in virtually every industry -- the technology

industry not excepted -- are struggling today to find enough

qualified applicants to fill open jobs," Gates said during his

keynote speech to the NBDC annual CEO conference. "With this in

mind, and with a strong belief that accessible technology can be

part of the solution, Microsoft conceived of Able to Work to raise

awareness of the value in recruiting and hiring people with

disabilities, and to provide concrete tools and information to help

businesses understand and tap into this work force."

Able to Work, led by Executive Director Francine Tishman and

managed on an ongoing basis by NBDC, will undertake two main

initiatives during its first year. Abletowork.org, a new

interactive Web site available today, provides member companies and

others with an online venue for posting job openings, as well as a

resume posting service that allows them to search and review

thousands of resumes from individuals with disabilities who have

completed post-high-school education and/or training.

In addition, Able to Work members will participate in a pilot

employment program to be conducted in partnership with the

Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults With Disabilities.

This alliance between government and business, pushing forward on

employment issues that impact both groups, will lead to specific,

measurable opportunities for people with disabilities in the

workplace. Specifics of the program will be announced by the task

force later this fall.

Able to Work members represent a range of industries,

including high technology, consumer products, financial services,

manufacturing and staffing services. All currently recruit and hire

people with disabilities in their workplaces. Through Able to Work,

these companies will provide mentoring and direction to both small

and large businesses throughout the country that haven't begun

recruiting potential employees with disabilities. Able to Work

charter members include the following organizations: AT&T Corp.

AT&T Wireless, Bank of America Corp., Booz, Allen & Hamilton,

Caterpillar Inc., Crestar Bank, A Subsidiary of SunTrust Banks

Inc., Ford Motor Co., Honeywell Inc., IBM Corp., Johnson & Johnson,

Lucent Technologies Inc., MBNA Corp., Medtronic Physio-Control

Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Microsoft, NCR Corp., Procter & Gamble

Co., Royal Bank of Canada, SAFECO Corp., Staffcentrix.com,

UnumProvident Corporation, Washington Mutual Inc.

"The fact that Able to Work represents some of North America's

most successful and respected companies underscores our belief that

the business community is extremely motivated to address the

problem of underemployment among individuals with disabilities, and

that they recognize the strong business case for doing so," said

Francine Tishman, executive director of both Able to Work and NBDC.

"We're looking forward to rolling up our sleeves with the members

to identify new recruiting and accommodation ideas and strategies,

and to getting started on the Web site and pilot programs right


Microsoft has long worked with the disability community to

identify the technology needs of people with disabilities, with an

emphasis on how those technologies can empower people in the

workplace. With the 10th anniversary of the Americans With

Disabilities Act approaching in June 2000, and the unemployment

rate of people with disabilities still staggeringly high, the

company decided to take action in addressing this problem in

concert with other major U.S. employers.

ABOUT NBDC: The National Business & Disability Council is the

leading national resource for the successful integration of persons

with disabilities into the work force and consumer marketplace.

Comprising many Fortune 1000 corporate members with headquarters

throughout the country, NBDC members collectively employ

approximately 600,000 workers with disabilities.

NBDC is the recipient of the prestigious U.S. Department of

Labor EPIC Award for its achievements in working with the business

community. Its services include an online information hot line, job

postings, monthly informational updates, a newsletter, customized

staff training programs, accessibility surveys, conferences, and a

national resume database. Larry Gloeckler, deputy commissioner of

New York State, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services is

among several experts who will advise corporate consortium members

on issues facing employment of persons with disabilities.

ABOUT MICROSOFT: Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide

leader in software for personal and business computing. The company

offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower

people through great software -- any time, any place and on any


NOTE: Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.

in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and

company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.




EDITOR'S NOTE: The following regards a case in which the

American Council of the Blind (ACB) advised that the organization

would legally represent the individual who brought the complaint

should she and ACB agree that such representation should become

necessary. Many legal citations and extensive legal language were

used but have been omitted for the sake of space.


The City of Cincinnati, on May 4, 1999, through James L.

Johnson, Assistant City Solicitor, sent the following information

in reply to a Request for a Legal Opinion Regarding Dog Guides in

Taxicabs to Kent Ryan, Director of Safety.

According to the information provided, these are the

essential, uncontroverted facts. On February 4, 1999, at 3:45

p.m., Annie McEachirn, a legally blind person, approached Sunshine

Cab 742, first in line on the Omni Taxi Stand at Fifth and Race

Streets, and requested a ride to her residence. Ms. McEachirn was

accompanied by her dog guide, a black Labrador. The driver of the

taxi, Hassan Taher, refused the fare, telling her he was allergic

to dogs, and that it was against his religion to be in the same car

as the dog. Ms. McEachirn was transported to her residence by Tom

Ellis, the driver of Ellis Taxicab 3, the second taxi on the stand.

The question raised is whether the driver could legally refuse to

transport a legally blind person and her dog guide for either of

the two reasons he gave.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Cincinnati

Municipal Code (CMC) and the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) require that

a taxicab driver transport a blind person and the person's dog

guide. This determination is supported by decisions of the United

States (US) Supreme Court. His complaint that he is allergic to

dogs and that it would violate his religious beliefs are not

sufficient to overcome Ms. McEachirn's rights under the ADA, the

ORC or the CMC.


The First Amendment to the US Constitution provides that

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of

religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

ORC provides that when a blind, deaf or mobility impaired

person is accompanied by a dog that serves as a guide, leader or

listener, or support dog for him, the person is entitled to full

and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of

all public conveyances, hotels, lodging places, all places of

accommodation, and other places to which the general public is

invited, and may take the dog into such conveyances and places.

ORC also provides that no person shall deprive a blind, deaf or

mobility impaired person of any of the above provided-for or charge

such person a fee for the dog (guide).

The CMC provides that it shall be the duty of every driver of

an unengaged taxicab, upon request, to transport any orderly person

between any two points within the city. CMC also provides that

every applicant for a license as a driver of a taxicab shall make

application to the Director of Safety, which shall set forth that

the applicant is free of any infirmity, physical or mental, which

would render the applicant unfit for safe operation of a public


The ADA says, as a general rule, no individual shall be

discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and

equal enjoyment of specified transportation services provided by a

private entity that is engaged primarily in the business of

transporting people and whose operations affect commerce. It also

establishes the general rule that no individual shall be

discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and

equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges,

advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation

by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place

of public accommodation.

Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that

substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of

such individual; a record of such impairment; or being regarded as

having such impairment.

Major life activities are functions such as caring for

oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing,

speaking, breathing, learning and working.

Place of public accommodation means a facility, operated by a

private entity, whose operations affect commerce and fall within

specified categories, one category being a terminal, depot or other

station used for specified public transportation.

Specified public transportation means transportation by bus,

rail or any other public conveyance (other than by aircraft) that

provides the general public with general or special service

(including charter service) on a regular and continuing basis.

The Justice Department is directed to issue regulations

implementing Title III of the ADA.

The definition for place of public accommodation is further

clarified by rules and regulations, Department of Justice. The

term place of public accommodation is an adaptation of the

statutory definition of public accommodation and appears as an

element of the regulatory definition of public accommodation. The

final rule defines place of public accommodation as a facility,

operated by a public entity, whose operations affect commerce and

fall within at least one of twelve specified categories. The term

public accommodation, on the other hand, is reserved by the final

rule for the private entity that owns, leases, (or leases to), or

operates a place of public accommodation. It is the public

accommodation, and not the place of public accommodation, that is

subject to the regulation's nondiscrimination requirements.

Placing the obligation not to discriminate on the public

accommodation, as defined in the rule, is consistent with the ADA,

which places the obligation not to discriminate on any person who

owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public

accommodation. Generally, a public accommodation shall modify

policies and procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an

individual with a disability. ADA regulations use the term service

animals for dog guides and other animals used by individuals with


In its interpretive commentary, the Justice Department states:

The final rule now provides that generally, a public accommodation

shall modify policies, practices and procedures to permit the use

of a service animal by an individual with a disability.

Formulation reflects the general intent of Congress that public

accommodations take the necessary steps to accommodate service

animals and to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not

separated from their service animals. It is intended that the

broadest feasible access be provided to service animals in all

places of public accommodation, including movie theaters,

restaurants, hotels, hospitals, retail stores and nursing homes.

The section also acknowledges that, in rare circumstances,

accommodation of service animals may not be required because a

fundamental alteration would result in the nature of the goods,

services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations

offered or provided, or the safe operation of the public

accommodation would be jeopardized.


The US Supreme Court determined, in a case involving the issue

of the sacramental use of peyote, an illegal substance under Oregon

State law that: We have never held that an individual's religious

beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law

prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. The record

of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence

contradicts that proposition.

Quoting, with approval, from a Supreme Court Decision

previously overruled with reasons unrelated to issues relevant to

Ms. McEachirn's complaint, the court stated that conscientious

scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious

toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law

not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs.

The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the

relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the

citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities. Laws are

made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere

with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.

Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his

religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed

doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and

in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.

In a decision reversing convictions for violating a

Connecticut statute prohibiting the solicitation of funds for

religious causes without prior state approval, the US Supreme Court

stated: Thus the First Amendment embraces two concepts - freedom

to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the

nature of things, the second cannot be. Conduct remains subject to

regulation for the protection of society.

In a decision determining that a brewery violated the ADA by

refusing to allow a blind man and his dog guide to take a public

brewery tour, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth District said

the legislative history of Title III makes clear that Congress

concluded that it is a reasonable modification for places of public

accommodation with animal restrictions policies to allow

individuals with disabilities full use of service animals. The

brewery in this case offered to provide a personal human guide

which the complainant declined.


Ms. McEachirn experienced discrimination and unequal treatment

despite the fact that the next cab in line drove her to her

destination. Mr. Taher would have transported her without

hesitation if she were not disabled. Her inconvenience would have

been greater had he declined to transport her upon being dispatched

to her home.

Mr. Taher's right to hold the religious belief that dogs are

impure is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

His decision to act upon that religious belief by declining to

transport a blind person with a dog guide is not protected by the

First Amendment and violates the ADA, Ohio law and the CMC. (The

decisions of the Supreme Court made it unnecessary to consider

whether his approach to dogs is consistent with the tenets of his

religion.) The Supreme Court has made it clear that the exercise

of religious beliefs may be restricted by laws addressing

legitimate areas of political concern that are aimed at neither the

promotion nor restriction of religious beliefs. The ADA and

similar legislative enactments clearly meet the standard the Court

has articulated.

The Department of Justice has determined, in interpreting the

ADA, that taxi services to the public are covered by the ADA. The

Department stated, in an opinion letter dated April 29, 1992,

written by the Chief of the Department of Justice, Civil Rights

Division, Coordination and Review Section to a New Orleans

Consulting Firm: The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of

disability in the provision of transportation services to the

general public by bus, rail or any other conveyance on a regular

and continuing basis by any private entity that is primarily

engaged in the business of transporting people and whose operations

affect commerce. This requirement would include taxi services.

Mr. Taher's second reason for not transporting Ms. McEachirn,

that he is allergic to dogs, similarly does not provide him with a

legitimate defense to her complaint. He stated to Public Vehicle

officials that his allergy to dogs is such that a dog in the car

would make him so ill that he would have problems driving due to

sneezing and watery eyes. He made no such representation, however,

when answering the question directed at the existence of an

infirmity which would render him unfit for safe operation of a

motor vehicle in his application for a public vehicle license. The

statement from his doctor, dated February 25, 1999, was that, based

on a February 23 skin test, Mr. Taher is allergic to grass,

ragweed, plantain, sorrel, aspergillus, cat, dog, dust mites and

house dust.

Although Mr. Taher did not raise the issue as one of ADA

accommodation, under certain circumstances the Department of

Justice would consider an allergic condition a disability covered

by the ADA. The Department of Justice, however, declines to say

categorically that various environmental illnesses (also known as

multiple chemical sensitivities) are disabilities, because the

determination as to whether an impairment is a disability depends

on whether, given the particular circumstances at issue, the

impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities

(or has a history of, or is regarded as having such an effect.)

Sometimes respiratory or neurological functioning is so

severely affected that an individual will satisfy the requirements

to be considered disabled under the regulation. Such an individual

would be entitled to all of the protections afforded by the Act.

In other cases, individuals may be sensitive to environmental

elements or to smoke but their sensitivity will not rise to the

level needed to constitute a disability. For example, their major

life activity of breathing may be somewhat, but not substantially,

impaired. In such circumstances, the individuals are not disabled

and are not entitled to the protections of the statute despite

their sensitivity to environmental agents. The determination as to

whether allergies to cigarette smoke, or allergies or sensitivities

characterized as environmental illness are disabilities covered by

the regulation must be made by using the same case-by-case analysis

that is applied to all other physical or mental impairments.

However, even if Mr. Taher's allergic reaction to dogs was

determined to be a disability covered by the ADA, the ADA might not

require that the City accommodate him as a taxicab driver. As a

general rule, no covered entity shall discriminate against a

qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of

such individual in regard to job application procedures, the

hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee

compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and

privileges of employment, relationship or association; making

reasonable accommodations to the physical or mental limitations of

an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an

applicant or employee, unless such covered entity can demonstrate

that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the

operation of the business of such covered entity or by denying

employment opportunities to a job applicant or employee who is an

otherwise qualified individual with a disability, if such denial is

based on the need of such covered entity to make reasonable

accommodation to the physical or mental impairment of the employee

or applicant; using qualification standards, tests or other

selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an

individual with a disability or a class of individuals with

disabilities unless the standard, test or other selection criteria

as used by the covered entity, is shown to be job related for the

position in question and is consistent with business necessity.


1. Mr. Taher's public vehicle license should be revoked based

on his representations regarding his exercise of his religious

beliefs and his allergic reaction to dogs. The Public Vehicle

Office should reinstate his license only if: A. Mr. Taher

provides the necessary medical information for a determination of

whether his allergic condition amounts to an ADA disability. He

describes a severe allergic reaction to dogs that, in his own

words, would make it difficult for him to drive with a dog in the

cab. If his condition amounts to an ADA disability, an

accommodation analysis will be necessary. If his condition is not

an ADA disability, an analysis of his suitability to hold a public

vehicle license must be made under the provisions of the CMC.

Depending on the severity of his condition, he could experience the

same reaction in the presence of a dog owner, even if the dog is

not present. B. Mr. Taher provides written assurance that he will

transport blind persons and disabled persons with dog guides and

other service animals and will otherwise comply with the ADA, Ohio

law and the CMC.

2. Jamal Alwalwi's status as the holder of public vehicle

licenses should be reviewed. He is the owner of Sunshine Taxi and

owns and maintains a public vehicle license on the taxi Mr. Taher

operated when he declined to transport Ms. McEachirn. In a news

interview broadcast on February 4, 1999, Mr. Alwawi stated,

regarding his religious beliefs: We don't try to touch this dog.

Because if you touch this dog, if this dog spits on you, nothing in

the world would clean you up from that. In response to the

interviewer's question whether he would have given Ms. McEachirn a

ride if she had approached him rather than Mr. Taher, he stated:

No, I wouldn't. I wouldn't because of belief.

3. The Public Vehicle Office, with the assistance of the

Solicitor's Office should review its license application and the

rules sheet it provides when issuing a public vehicle license.

Obligations imposed by Local, State and Federal law should be clear

to the holder of a public vehicle license.



By Margaret Quan


GAITHERSBURG, Md. - The National Institute of Standards and

Technology's Information Technology Laboratory has initiated a

program to make the text displayed on electronic devices more

accessible to the blind and vision-impaired. Some of the current

research includes the investigation of the display aspects of

electronic-book readers and the development of a new Braille

display technology to improve accessibility to media such as

electronic books.

John Roberts, program manager for the Advanced Display

Technology Systems Lab within NIST's Information Technology Lab,

said that he and researcher Oliver Slattery became interested in

the idea last year when Judith Dixon, an official at the Library of

Congress involved in accessibility issues, suggested that there was

a need to make such technologies as electronic books accessible to

all people, especially the blind. Roberts said he wanted to design

a device that would increase the quality of life for the estimated

750,000 blind people in the United States, as well as for the

millions with low vision.

CHEAPER, MORE COMPACT: Many blind people do not have access

to Braille displays. The displays, which have a line of 40 Braille

characters and hundreds of actuators, can stretch to the size of

piano keyboards to accommodate all the characters in a continuous

line, and they cost between $10,000 and $15,000.

Roberts' goal was to design a more affordable, portable device

that would enable blind people to read electronic books as well as

the text on other electronic devices, such as personal digital

assistants (PDAs) and computers. He also wanted to reduce the cost

of such devices by a factor of 10 and make them more reliable by

reducing the number of actuators.

"I feel it's important [to work on accessibility devices]

because people who need them represent a tremendous intellectual

asset to the country," Roberts said.

While the blind can in theory use voice systems to access

electronic devices, Roberts explained that not everyone can use

them and added that the systems are often not as accurate as

Braille for precision work. For instance, he pointed out that if

a blind person wanted to write a computer program, the person would

use Braille, not speech technology. With that in mind, Roberts and

Slattery took up the challenge offered by Dixon and decided to

create a Braille interface for electronic books.

Slattery was given the job of building the prototype and

devised a rotating wheel-based design for a Braille electronic-book

reader. He used Labview instrument control software, a National

Instruments board with relays, transducers and other materials to

create the prototype.

The Braille reader takes words of text displayed on an

electronic book or PDA, and converts them, via Labview software,

into Braille. The instructions for the Braille symbol are sent as

a digital signal to a relay board and then a transducer board,

which triggers a solenoid to create a Braille symbol. The solenoid

interacts with the wheel, which has Braille cells placed along the

edge. There are 12 internal actuators inside the wheel base and

three external actuators on the wheel. When the actuators are

triggered, they write dots on the cells as the wheel turns. The

user places two fingers on two exposed Braille cells and reads the

Braille as the wheel moves.

The rotating wheel is designed to mesh with the way Braille

users read, by brushing their finger over lines of Braille, Roberts

said. Braille is read that way because the human sense of touch is

more sensitive when the finger is moving over the material, rather

than when it is still. The compact wheel format allows for long

lines of text and continuous reading: important considerations for

average Braille users, who read 120 to 125 words per minute.

Braille, like English, is a language that does not make sense if

it's not a continuous string.

Military roots Braille was invented by Louis Braille of France

in the 19th century. He based Braille on an old French military

code that employed dots to represent words and text. The code

allowed soldiers to read instructions in the dark. Braille

modified the code and it became the language used by many

blind people. There are two kinds of Braille. Grade One Braille is

character-for-character replacement, and Grade Two Braille

represents contractions, words or two-letter sequences.

The Institute prototype uses Grade One Braille, but Roberts

said a commercial version of the device could use either Grade One

or Grade Two Braille, and the device could be miniaturized and made

portable. The approach could also be implemented with a board of

power transistors instead of the mechanical relays Roberts and

Slattery used because they allowed the researchers to build the

device faster. Roberts believes electronic-book reading is a

natural application for the Braille reader and suggested that

it be integrated with, or attached to other reader devices and


The next step for the inventors is to make the Braille more

readable and to get feedback from Braille readers on how well it

works. In the meantime, the two inventors have filed for a patent.

No company has stepped forward to produce the device yet.





* The leadership of all major blindness organizations met

to discuss and develop a strategy for advancing separate

and identifiable services to blind folks and the associated

challenges we face. Topics included a model state legislative

bill for the creation of Commissions for the Blind, cooperation

strategies between the groups, talking points to be used in the

advocacy network, and the coordination of information delivery

systems. The meeting included ACB, NFB, AER, NCSAB, NCPAB, the

Seeing Eye and others. All participated in the discussion and the

spirit of cooperation was more than evident throughout. Paul

Edwards and Charlie Crawford represented ACB and contributed much

to the discussion especially in the areas of qualified personnel

and the principles of consumer cooperation.

* We heard that our request for representation on the Rights

of Way advisory board to the Architectural Access Board was

granted. Melanie Brunson backed up by Charlie Crawford will

participate on this body that will develop the criteria used by the

federal government in defining pedestrian rights of way. This will

apply to intersections and sidewalks along with other important

areas where we need to go.

* A conference call was held with John Horst and Pam Shaw

from The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind with Paul Edwards and

Charlie Crawford. The issues in Pennsylvania on how the state is

chipping away at blind services need to be addressed forcefully if

blind Pennsylvanians are to have a service structure worth using.

The call produced a number of strategic ideas for tactical

implementation and we are confident that the united forces of blind

folks in the Quaker state will ultimately succeed.

* ACB sent three important letters on topics of interest to

our members. The first went to GSA requesting a meeting with the

Administrator for that agency to discuss and resolve the long term

issues of blind industrial employees who rely upon the Javits

Wagner O'Day Act for sales to the federal government. The second

went to the head of the Federal Communications Commission telling

him its time to get with the program and put out a notice of

proposed rule making for descriptive video services. The third one

went to our internet shopping village sponsor letting them know

that we have serious concerns about their opening page banner that

does not list ACB and other organizations that have recently signed

on to the shopping village. This creates potentially unfair

business advantages accrued by organizations on the banner. The

letter also reinforced ACB's concerns for increased accessibility

of the web site.

* Recently the Congress passed both the work incentives and

the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration Acts.

ACB has had a hand in these pieces of legislation and we are

quietly working to make sure that the conference committees

meeting to reconcile differences between the House and Senate

versions keep what we want. If successful, and its looking good;

the medical benefits extensions as a work incentive and the

ability to really put the heat on airlines that discriminate will

be in place!

* It looks like ACB may be able to attract the funding to

develop a couple of conferences which would be aimed at how to

really get that job. There are truths that are not all that

complicated which can seal the deal, but we need to see how much

we can take on with all we got going this year. However, the

money is on having the conferences!

* Affiliate Services Coordinator Terry Pacheco has been in

touch with the White House on a plan to get disabled folks

involved in a mentoring program coming out of the White House.

Its too early to say much more, but looks like a good idea for

getting blind students linked to exciting activities within the

federal government.


By Rachel Sobel, Post-Gazette Staff Writer


Christine Hunsinger leans her head back and strokes the face

of her bumpy Seiko watch. It's almost 6:35 a.m. She walks swiftly

around the coffee table in her pitch-black living room and says

goodbye to her husband Doug, who is sitting with Val, his

guide dog. With her long white cane in hand, Hunsinger nudges

around for the door handle and heads toward the curves and

sounds of the city.

Christine Hunsinger gets off the 46A Brentwood bus on Wood

Street, Downtown, on her way to work. (Tony Tye, Post-Gazette)

She gracefully extends her arm and rhythmically moves the long

cane - right step, left touch, left step, right touch. She

strolls across the lawn, poking the familiar cracks of her walkway.

The cane's tip lands in the soft grass and she steadily veers back

toward the concrete, coming to a pause at the corner of

Brownsville and Garden roads in Brentwood.

There is no chirping audio signal here, no traffic light, no

stop sign, no other pedestrians around. Just the random whir

of cars. Hunsinger, who is totally blind, points her long cane into

the crosswalk and calmly waits until she hears a break in the hum

of cars going by. Then, she briskly crosses the street to the bus

stop and shortly, the 46A arrives.

Like nearly half of the 10,200 legally blind people who live

in Allegheny County, Hunsinger makes her way with a white cane,

an aluminum rod wrapped in reflective tape with a flat handle and

a Fiberglass tip.

Today is the day annually set aside to raise awareness of the

challenges that blind pedestrians face. Since 1964, Oct. 15 has

been nationally designated White Cane Safety Day.

"There is a percentage of our population who function every

day without vision," says Richard L. Welsh, president of Pittsburgh

Vision Services, who estimated that there are 5,000 white cane

users in Allegheny County. "This day honors that and reminds people

that this is something to be aware of."

Hunsinger wants more people to appreciate the daily encounters

of a cane traveler - on this day or any other.

"I wish people would respect my rights when I wave my cane

around, and it doesn't always happen," she says.

From speeding drivers to inattentive pedestrians to accidents,

the path of a cane traveler is no yellow brick road.

Once, a car sped around a corner and broke her cane. Another

time, a pedestrian tripped over her cane and bent it, rendering

it useless. In another incident, her cane got caught in a metal

grate and slipped out of her hand into a sewer.

"Mornin', we got seats on both sides behind me," says the

driver of the 46A. "Good morning," Hunsinger says as she pats

around and finds a seat. She folds the cane into four parts and

sits on it.

A few stops into the route, Donna Talak of Brentwood gets on.

They've been riding the same route together for 14 months.

"I kinda missed you yesterday," Talak says.

"Well, gee, you know how the government is," Hunsinger replies

with a smile, having enjoyed a restful, three-day Columbus

Day weekend. They chat about Talak's daughter, the shopping

channel, audio museum tours, the stock market and Talak's recent

mishap. She had fallen the day before while walking home from the

bus stop and bruised her cheek.

"I guess you need a cane like me," Hunsinger jokes.

At Sixth and Wood, Downtown, they get off the bus and

Hunsinger holds Talak's elbow as the two make their way together to

Liberty Avenue, where Talak bids her farewell and goes to work.

Now Hunsinger is on her own and continues to the Social

Security Administration office at 915 Penn Ave., where she has

worked as a claims representative for seven years.

Without Talak, she runs into walls and collides with people

who look apologetic or surprised or, sometimes, annoyed. But

Hunsinger is nonchalant. She's used to the bruises, expects them,

even. Fortunately, she has never needed stitches. The bumps are

crucial to her navigation.

"Cane travel is a contact sport," Hunsinger says. "If you're

doing it right, you're supposed to hit things."

At one corner, Hunsinger gets her cane stuck between a

person's legs. The other pedestrian is startled and abruptly

untangles himself. She's back in business.

On Ninth Street, a security guard greets her at a usual spot,

the Catholic Charities building. Then, at the corner, she hears

the traffic stop across Ninth and realizes she might be able to go.

But Hunsinger is extremely cautious, as she moves around a

city where last year 309 pedestrian accidents occurred. Drivers

who make right turns and those who make rights on red sometimes do

not yield.

"I felt safer rock climbing than I feel on some street

corners," she says, referring to a recent trip to Maryland.

Two blind pedestrians were killed in Pennsylvania in 1993, but

there have been no fatalities since then, according to the U.S.

Department of Transportation.

Hunsinger stretches her long cane and starts the trek across

Ninth. Next she crosses Penn, with the same poise and care. After

some more patting and pushing, Hunsinger arrives at work.

FAMILIAR LANDSCAPE: Hunsinger rests her white cane under the

desk and boots up her computer with its Braille refresher screen,

a solid rectangular device with raised Braille characters that

change with the cursor's location on the monitor.

In between note-taking on her Perkins Brailler, interviewing

clients, and listening to her speech synthesizer, which reads

the computer screen, Hunsinger explains why she won't need her

white cane at work.

Like walking around at home, moving about the office is old

hat. She knows the landscape - the turns, the twists, the

furniture - and can feel it by "facial vision," the perception of

reflected sound "heard" or felt by her face.

As she passes the coat rack on the way to the coffee room,

Hunsinger senses how the echoes change. The coats absorb more of

the vibrations from her footsteps so she knows to turn left toward

the kitchen.

"It's almost like having someone stick their fingers in your

ears," she explains.

On city streets, facial vision works in tandem with the white

cane. The cane helps her evade people and walls while facial

vision helps her sense where to turn on a sidewalk, as the

reflection of sounds change from building to building.

Even with these aids, Hunsinger acknowledges that there are

some major obstacles to cane travel. One of the most challenging

is congested traffic. With cars in the crosswalk, Hunsinger can't

tell if the traffic is stopped with a green light -- meaning

it could move suddenly at any time - or with a red light. She'll

usually wait until the traffic clears or she'll approach

a fellow pedestrian for help.

But when someone says, "OK, it's red, go ahead," this confuses

her. Red for whom? Cars? What's more helpful, Hunsinger says,

is telling her that it's safe to travel because the light is green.

She welcomes assistance from anyone, unless the person is

inebriated or clearly confused. She'll accept help even if it's not

needed because she hates to discourage anyone from helping someone

in the future who really does need it.

Another challenge is dealing with curb cuts for wheelchairs.

The gradual sloping can be misleading, and sometimes puts her

out on the street without realizing it. Fortunately, many of

Downtown's curb cuts are steep enough to signal that the sidewalk

is ending.

Construction also throws Hunsinger and other cane travelers

for a loop. She'll have to ask many questions and slowly learn the

new route.

With these obstacles, a guide dog might be helpful. A dog

knows when it's safe to cross a street and can thread a person

through a construction site faster than a cane.

Although roughly 5 percent of blind people use guide dogs,

Hunsinger holds fast to her cane. Dogs need to be fed and canes

don't, she says. When visiting friends, she doesn't have to worry

about whether they like dogs. And besides, there's already a dog

around the house, her husband's yellow Labrador.

BUILDING A BETTER CANE: The white cane that Hunsinger depends

upon has come a long way as a travel device. In the 1930s, the

Lions Club of Peoria, Ill., proclaimed the white cane a symbol of

independence for the visually impaired. This orthopedic-style cane

was a short piece of painted wood, curved at the top, and was used

primarily for leaning and support.

In the 1940s, a former teacher, Richard Hoover, stationed at

the Valley Forge Hospital in Chester County, transformed the

cane. He lengthened and lightened it so it was not just a symbol of

independence but an indispensable tool to check the walking

surface ahead.

In honor of White Cane Safety Day, the Lions Club typically

raises funds outside shopping centers and grocery stores in

Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. Other groups, like the Golden

Triangle Council of the Blind, hand out pamphlets and send faxes

to boost awareness and appreciation of the blind.

When it's time to go home, Hunsinger cheerfully picks up her

white cane and eases her way into the great outdoors. It's another

rush hour and the people are staring, smiling and jumping to avoid

her cane.

She hears another cane traveler and crosses paths with him,

but they don't speak to each other.

"What am I supposed to say? 'Hey, blind person?' " Hunsinger


She catches the 51C and asks the bus driver to tell her when

they get to Garden Road. After a while, she worries that he forgot.

"Nope," he replies. "We're approaching Garden right now."

At the bus stop, she pokes around, trying to figure out

exactly where the bus dropped her. A few feet or few yards can make

a big difference. "It's always a surprise where they let me off,"

she says.

But today, like any other day, Hunsinger, white cane in hand,

finds her way.


Sleep Shade Training Nebraska Style

By Michael L. Renner

Guide Program Coordinator

Kansas Specialty Dog Service


For 8 years the Guide program staff at Kansas Specialty dog

service has had the opportunity to teach persons that are blind or

visually impaired how to use a dog for their

mobility choice. We have had many students, friends and guests of

KSDS that have given us insight into the world of blindness. It

only stands to reason that we did not hesitate when we were

provided with the opportunity to train at the Nebraska Orientation

Center under instructors that are blind or visually impaired.

Fitos Floyd is the Supervisor for the orientation center in

Lincoln, Nebraska. I was invited to give a seminar to staff and

students at the center in June of 1999. While I was

there we discussed the services that are offered at the Center.

Fitos said that they had many times trained instructors for other

centers in surrounding states. She told me that anyone from KSDS

that would like to go through training at the center would be

welcome. KSDS Guide Dog program instructors took advantage of an

opening in the August 1999 session.

August 16th was the beginning of a week of learning,

awareness, and also an opportunity to show our skills as guide dog

trainers. With the invitation came a request that we bring our

dogs to give test drives to staff and students at the center. We

began on Monday with one of the five instructors that would be

working with us throughout the week.

Beginning cane mobility was our starting point. The theory

for the center is structured discovery learning. This type of

learning is basically a supervised exploring of the world

around you to orientate yourself.

This was an incredible source of information sharing for all

parties involved. I felt that through our experience we gained

knowledge to utilize in our program and assist in training our

students. In return we educated center staff on orientation and

mobility involved with using a guide dog.

The two pieces of information that I thought were the most

important for me as a guide dog instructor were: 1 You can get to

where you want to be if you listen; I mean really listen. 2. As

a sighted instructor it is important to demonstrate what you want

your students to learn. If someone is having a problem with

orientation do not always try to talk them through it. Put

yourself into their position and work together to find an answer.

The staff of KSDS is determined to provide the best possible

placements and instruction for our students. We are open to ideas

and opportunities to receive instruction as well as give it. This

is how we will continue to improve a program that will be serving

Kansas for a long time to come.





deserves a rousing round of applause for the work done and the

hospitality shown at the recent annual meeting and convention of

the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (K A B V I.)

Marvelous job, Folks! Thank you.

CKAVI recently sold chances on a quilt. Some lucky person's

name will be drawn in November and the quilt will be theirs.


successfully hosted the second annual low vision fair in September.

The organization netted $1000 from ticket sales for the

American Legion Breakfast. Good work! It hardly seems possible

that a gentleman as busy as Santa Claus can find time to appear at

individual homes or parties, but he's agreed to do just that for a

fee. He has set aside time between November 26 and December 23.

To rent a bit of Santa's valuable time, contact Pat Hall at



learned about Talking Books and about the Telecommunications Access

Program (TAP) at recent meetings. Congratulations are due Travis

Dilley of North Glenn, Colorado, a long time volunteer for Camp

Mitchell. Travis worked with visually impaired campers when he was

a Boy Scout, helped during his college years, and took vacation

time from his job to work with the children. Travis recently

received the SKAVI Outstanding Service Award. The Knights of

Columbus Christmas Bazaar was held November 19, 1999. SKAVI paid

for the booth and members who displayed products received the money

from the sales of their products.


Thanksgiving with a dinner November 20, 1999.

The Wichita Association for the Visually Handicapped (WAVH)

will hold its 38th annual Christmas dinner on December 2, 1999 at

St. Peters Catholic Church in Schulte. At this dinner the Margaret

C. Champ award will be presented posthumously to Shirley Smith in

recognition of her many years of outstanding service on behalf of

blind and visually impaired people in the Wichita area. Shirley

was also recognized at the K A B V I convention in Great Bend with the

Extra Step Award. The plaque for this K A B V I award will be

presented to Grady Landrum, Director of the Center for Disabled

Students at Wichita State University and will be on display in the

Center as a memorial to Shirley.

K A B V I has introduced a number of items displaying the K A B V I

logo. Golf shirts, long sleeve polo shirts, sweat shirts and two

sizes of tote bags make up the current lineup. for details and to

place orders contact either Sandra Evans (316-524-3138) or Barbara

Alexander (316-652-0852).

As part of the newly launched K A B V I technology center,

equipment assessments, computer evaluations, construction of

computer systems and other assistive technology services are

available. For details, contact Michael Goren, Chair of K A B V I's

Technology and Communication Committee (316)686-3489). K A B V I is

also designing a web site that will be online early in the new

year. availability

Thanks to all you chapter news editors for sending your

information along.




NEW PROGRAMS: Kansas Employment and training Services is in

the process of installing new programs on Job Service Career Center

computers which provide access to persons who have impaired vision.

Individuals with sight impairments will be able to use the

Kansas Job Bank and America's Job Bank to locate employment.

ZoomText Xtra is a program that magnifies the images on the

computer screen up to 1600 percent. ASAW by Micro Talk is a

program that reads the screen for blind individuals. Job Service

Career Center staff start the programs and clients can go from

there. Headphones will be connected to the computers and users can

adjust the speed and the tone of the screen reader's voice. The

programs, which can be used on all Windows applications, were

purchased by the Kansas Occupational Information Coordination


MYRNA OLIVER, Staff Writer for The Los Angeles Times, reported

Attorney Stanley Fleishman Died September 23, 1999. The First

Amendment champion defended writers, the disabled and

pornographers. Stanley Fleishman, an attorney physically disabled

by polio from the age of 1, overcame disabilities to stand in front

of the U.S. Supreme Court on crutches and win countless 1st

Amendment and civil rights suits for clients ranging from the

disabled to pornographers. Fleishman was 79. He was known for

winning and was revered by his colleagues even if some of his

clients were not. He did extensive work on behalf of the disabled,

but Fleishman also earned a reputation for defending far less

savory clients as a pioneering member of the "porn bar" who

defended the public's right to create, buy and sell products

related to sex. Fleishman broke legal ground for the 1st

Amendment, championing such wide-ranging fare as the adult film

"Deep Throat," Henry Miller's once-banned book "Tropic of Cancer"

and the chain of Pussycat Theaters. That work earned him the Hugh

M. Hefner 1st Amendment Award for lifetime achievement "for his

persistent devotion and unflagging courage in extending the 1st

Amendment, by means of the judicial process, to include hitherto

unprotected modes of expression."


universal postal congress (upc) passed an agreement here today to

offer free mailing of printed materials in braille to the blind

around the world. euclid j. herie, president of the world blind

union (wbu), said that the inter-governmental deal will greatly

promote the cause of helping the blind. herie was in beijing to

attend the upc. about 80 percent of the 50 million blind people

in the world are impoverished, he said, adding that they urgently

need information in order to enjoy the same opportunities as

sighted people. he hopes that the mailing to the 189 member

countries of the universal postal union (upu) will help meet the

need of the poverty-stricken blind population. wbu is based in

toronto, canada, with more than 50 million members and

many branches around the world.




THORA JANE STEELE, 93, retired U S D 259 teacher, died Monday

October 25, 1999. Survivors INCLUDE: sons Larry AND John, both of

Wichita; three grandchildren; four great grandchildren. Mrs.

Steele taught Math at Truesdell Junior High School. She learned

braille and gave up her planning hour each day to teach visually

impaired students Math. She used several innovative methods TO

teach other useful skills to blind and low vision students. the

most memorable was teaching hand writing. she used clay on

cardboard to form the letters. We felt with our hands to learn the

shapes of the letters and then transferred that to actual writing

on paper.

WAYNE G. WIMBERLY, 65, died October 21, 1999. He was born

April 16, 1934, in El Rino, Oklahoma out of the union of Fern

Peppers and Walter Wimberly.

Upon moving to Oklahoma City, Wayne attended St. Peter Claver

and received his other formal education in Wichita, Kansas.

Graduating from Bishop Carroll and Mount Carmel, he received his BA

and MS.

Wayne served in the U.S. Air Force and was honorably

discharged. He was a member of Holy Savior Parish. Wayne was

commander of the DVA and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Wayne is survived by his mother, Fern Peppers, and an aunt,

Cleo Fowler.




Mark your calendars for the following events of importance

to blind and visually impaired Kansans. For more information,

contact the relevant organization directly.


* February 19-21, 2000 ACB Mid-year meetings, Louisville, KY

* State Rehabilitation Council meeting, Topeka. Contact Peg

Spencer, 785-267-5301 X220 for details.

* March 18-20, 2000 ACB Legislative Seminar, Doubletree Hotel,

Washington DC. Contact: ACB National Office, 202-467-5081.

* April 29, 2000 K A B V I Focus Day II, KSDS, Washington KS.

Topic: O&M, the Cane and the Guide Dog. Contact: Sanford

Alexander, 316-652-0852.

* May 1-3, 2000 Statewide Independent Living

Council Summit, Kansas City. Contact: SILCK, 700 SW

Jackson, Suite 212, Topeka, KS 66603, 785-234-6990 (V/TDD)

* June 3-4, 2000 State Rehabilitation Council meeting, Topeka.

Contact Peg Spencer, 785-267-5301.

* July 2-8, 2000 ACB Convention, Louisville, KY. Contact: ACB

office, 202-467-5081.

* September 18-20, 1999 Assistive Technology conference:

Topeka Expo Center. Contact: Assistive Technology for

Kansans Project, Sheila Simmons, 2601 Gabriel, Parsons KS

67357, 316-421-8367 or 1-800-526-3648, e-mail: ssimmons@parsons.lsi.ukans.edu

* October 19, 2000 Inaugural Mary T. Adams Seminar, Holiday Inn,

Great Bend, KS. Contact Dr. Kendall Krug, 785-625-3937

* October 20-22, 1999 K A B V I convention: Great Bend Holiday Inn.

Contact: Regina Henderson, Convention Coordinator, 1010

Inverness, Wichita KS 67218, 316-687-0113


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Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.
924 S. Kansas Ave.  •  Topeka, KS  66612
phone: 785-235-8990  •  toll free in KS: (800)-799-1499

email: mail@kabvi.org